Coffee History

Coffee has a long history. The history of coffee started somewhere between the years 575 and 850. It is presumed that the Ethiopian and Kenyan tribes took coffee seeds with them on their journey to Arabia.

According to other historians and their opinion of the coffee-history, the Arabian Soefi’s (A mystic sect), brought the coffee seeds from their invasion into Ethiopia. But the literature has confirmed that the grandmaster of the Soefi, Ali ben Omar al Shadili was responsible for this. The Arabian al Shadili established a monastery in the port town of Mokka (Al Mokha). After this he became familiar with coffee which he took to Arabia. The people discovered that coffee did not only help against tiredness and sleepiness, but that it also tasted very delightful. 

There were lot discussions about the first usage of coffee. The documents of the European explorers and botanists are telling that the Ethiopians were chewing on raw coffee beans in that time. The coffee beans were also crunched. However, instead of mixing it with water, it was mixed with animal fat. After that it was shaped into small balls that were used as an energy source during long travels. It is also known that with the use of the juice from coffee-berries, wine was made. The wine was called “quahwah” and was used later on for the coffee-drink we know nowadays. 

Coffee was initially used only as a part of a religious ceremony or as a medicine. It was prescribed for the weirdest kinds of ailment like gouty diathesis and kidney stones. 

The history of coffee did not come to an end with this. After the drinking of coffee became generally accepted in Arabia, it got spread to other places like Egypt, Syria, Persia and Turkey. At the end of the 16th century, Europe got to know about coffee. The Venetians were the first ones to start with trading the coffee with the Arabians. After this the Dutch also noticed that there was a good business in coffee. A Dutch trader was able to steal a coffee-plant from Mecca and experimented on the East-Indian colonial Java. After this, a lot of coffee plantations were started on Sumatra, Timor, Bali and Celebes. The real European breakthrough happened when a coffee-plant was given by the mayor of Amsterdam to Luis XIV in the year 1715. Because of this, France became the largest consumer of coffee products. While years were passing coffee became familiar to the whole world.

1. History of coffee
2. Diuretic Weight Loss
3. National Coffee Association USA > About Coffee > History of Coffee

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Chicken Salad

You can make a chicken salad a hundred ways and they all would be great. Especially if you use a roasted or smoked chicken. But if I was going to make one I would do it like this. 

60g/2½oz Chicken meat (From a roasted or smoked chicken beat to have a mix of leg and breast meat is best.)

400g/14oz Salad leaves

25g/1oz Fresh chives

25g/1oz Fresh parsley

2 Sprigs fresh thyme

3 Rashers of Streaky bacon

60g/2½oz Boiled salad potatoes

50ml/4tdsp extra virgin olive oil

10ml/2tsp Lemon juice

10ml/2tsp Runny honey

15g/3tsp Whole grain mustard

Salt and pepper to taste

First you get your chicken and then cut it in to strips. Unless the skin is very crispy I normally take it off as cold chicken skin is not as nice as hot chicken skin. Then place it in to a nice big bowl.

Then add the salad leaves to the bowl and a goo amount of fresh herbs. If you can pick you salad leaves I would go for the more robust ones that will take a little heat as you will see why latter. As for the herbs I like to use chives, parsley and the leaves of fresh thyme as well.

Now the next thing to do is get a pan on the stove and heat that up. Dices the streaky bacon and start to fry it in the pan. You want to cook it so that it becomes rather crispy. As the bacon cooks take your cold salad potatoes and add them to the pan so that every thing can sauté together. This way all the lovely crystallizing juices from the bacon start to stick to the potato. You have no need to add any oil or any thing like that as plenty come from the bacon. Also I like to season the potato and bacon with a good grind of black pepper as well. 

Now back in you large bowl add some runny honey, whole grain mustard and olive oil. Start to toss everything together. Once you have got everything nicely cover then add the potato and bacon and quickly toss everything once more. Then present it all in a nice bug bow and eat straight away.

Now I know that with a salad you do not want to be cooling things and you can make it with out the warm bacon and potatoes, but trust me it gives it a lift that you will find well worth doing.  

1. Chicken salad
2. Menopause Diet
3. Chicken Salad Recipe : Food Network Kitchen : Food Network

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Best Death Themed Halloween Cocktails Drinks

Any and all of these death themed Halloween cocktail drinks will add some life to your party. (Pun intended.) They are the best death themed Halloween cocktails, as they all taste great and are simple to make. These are great additions to any adult Halloween party menu ideas.

Red Death Cocktail Recipe – Watch out, or this Halloween cocktail drink will literally floor you!

Red Death Halloween Drink Ingredients
1 ounce each – vodka, sloe gin, Southern Comfort, amaretto liqueur
1 ounce – triple sec
1/2 ounce – grenadine
1/2 ounce – lime juice
3 ounces – orange juice
ice cubes

Put all of the cocktail drink ingredients in a cocktail shaker with ice. Shake the cocktail shaker until the ingredients have chilled, about 30 seconds. Pour into a highball glass.

I’ve never tried the following death themed Halloween drink before. It just seems weird, but I know people that really like it. So here it is:

The Black Death Cocktail Drink Recipe:
Use 1 1/2 ounces of vodka and 1/2 ounce of soy sauce. Add both to a cocktail shaker and shake til mixed well. Pour over ice into an old-fashioned glass.

The following is a very easy Halloween themed cocktail drink to make:

Death Wish Halloween Cocktail Drink Recipe
Mix equal parts peach schnapps and Dr. Pepper soft drink in a mug. That’s it! It’s really good.

Death by Shot Cocktail Recipe – Only the very brave dare try this Halloween themed drink!
You need: 1 ounce tequila and Tabasco sauce
Add the white tequila to a shot glass. Layer 8-10 drops of Tabasco on top. Let the Tabasco settle before drinking.

Death of a Virgin Halloween Drink Recipe
Cocktail Drink Ingredients:
1 1/2 ounces each: peach schnapps and vodka
1 ounce each: orange juice, lime juice, and Sprite soft drink

Pour the alcohol and lime juice into a mug . Add enough orange juice to fill the mug halfway. Top off with Sprite. Stir. Serve.

Be careful making the following Halloween cocktail. It shouldn’t be attempted after the party has been in swing for too long:

Death From Above Cocktail Drink Recipe
You need:
1 ounce each of Bacardi 151 rum and gin
3 ounces of cola

Pour the alcohol into a chilled old-fashioned glass. Carefully set it on fire.
Wait a few seconds, then add the cola.
Drink and enjoy!

These death themed Halloween cocktails will be the finishing touch to your Halloween party. For some more Halloween cocktail drinks, see Best Devil Themed Halloween Cocktails. Enjoy Halloween, and drink responsibly!

1. 23 Halloween Cocktail Recipes | Entertaining Ideas & Party Themes …
2. Green Beans Health Benefits
3. 13 Halloween Cocktails and Drinks – Spooktacular Drink Recipes

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Bollywood Adelaide Review

We stayed in a hotel in central Adelaide for a few days (waiting for a train, believe it or not!) and one of those days, tired after long hours of sightseeing, we ordered a take away from what we thought would be a good bet – an Indian restaurant. This showed British kind of thinking (I have been consistently disappointed in Indian food in Australia, New Zealand and, to lesser extent, Canada too), as IMHO it’s hard to completely mis-cook a curry, and as the few reviews on Google were good, we thought we would be fine with Bollywood.

We should have ordered a pizza: we have never, ever, in our whole, long lives of curry eating (and that included some really not-that-great British take awayas, many fairly mediocre restaurant meals and quite a few imperfect products of our own cooking) we ever had such a horrible Indian (?) meal. What we received from Adelaide’s Bollywood was not only the worst curry take away I have ever had, it was quite possibly the worst (and I only hesitate due to a memory of some horrible, cheese-flooded, oil-soaked Polish pizza) take away I ever had, and in the league down there with the worst meal I have ever had a misfortune to pay for.

Considering that it also happened to be possibly the most expensive take away we ever had (we paid 75 Australian dollars for the abomination, which at the time was close to 50 pounds), I am less than happy with our Bollywood experience.

We ordered three curries: a beef Bhuna, a beef Madras, and Dal Ghost (lamb). We also had onion bhaji and mix vegetable pakoras, plus naan and rice.

Well, the rice was OK, and the naan was pretty good, although not outstanding. Of the rest, the onion bhaji, although made with spring onions and coming in a rather strange loose format (i.e. individual strings of the stuff fried in chick pea batter) was just about edible, though a bit stringy and not quite what I expected – but then maybe Aussie onion bhajis are different.

But the curries? The curries, that, according to my own opinion, are so hard to completely muck-up?

They were inedible. I don’t exaggerate: not inedible as not-particularly-enjoyable-but-that’s-all-we-have so-it-will-do, not even just not-worth-the-money. Inedible, as in: throw-in-the-bin and-take-downstairs-and-we’ll-have-some-dried-bread-please.

Now, I am not a fussy or overtly sophisticated eater (which is amply demonstrated by my ample girth). I like nice food, but can enjoy junky fast food, and will forgive a lot if a sauce is laden with spices and chilli. And I tried all three of the curries: and they were all below par. This shows clearly that it could not have been an accident of mis-matched taste or one-off cock-up. All three dishes we had were bad.

The “Madras” takes the prize for Bollywood horrors. The sauce (the “sauce”?) was thin and runny, but with a gooey stringiness to it. It was pale in colour, and tasted as if it was cooked by throwing a lot of ready-made Madras curry powder into the pot, boiling once and then throwing in some more, possibly with extra turmeric for bitterness. The meat was in thin, slimy slices that tasted plain wrong. This was left completely uneaten.

The Bhuna was just a little better. The meat was the same (as thin, as slimy and as horribly-tasting), but the sauce was thicker than the excuse for Madras and bordered on edible, in small quantities and with a big dollop of rice or a chunk of naan. Still, it was too tomatoey and lacked any subtlety or development of flavour. Some of this (sauce only) was eaten, most went in the bin.

The Dal Ghost was the best of the three, as in this one the meat was – just – edible, although not exactly nice, consisting of cubes of (not slimy, yipee!) lamb that was, however, too gristly to be enjoyable. The thick, green-brown lentil based sauce would have been interesting if it wasn’t as bitter as it was, but mixed with some rice it wasn’t as bad as the other two. This one was mostly eaten (but without enjoyment).

On the initial bite into the pakoras I though they were a saving grace for Bollywood, as the outside was nicely fried, well spiced and a bit chewy. The inside (as in: about half of each fritter) was, however, and very disappointingly, uncooked, with a cold and bitter blob of raw chickpea batter sitting in the middle.

Altogether, an unmitigated disaster.

I would have gone or phone to complain (and I don’t do it normally just because I don’t like the food) but we were leaving and thus I am using this review to warn potential customers: do keep away, and if you want to risk it, go inside and check first (the good reviews were of the eat-in, maybe they give the yesterday’s rejects to take away customers), but whatever you do, do not on any account order a take away!

17 Leigh St

Adelaide SA 5000

1. Bollywood Indian Restaurant, Adelaide – Restaurant Reviews …
2. Foods To Detox For Weight Loss
3. Taste of Bollywood, Hindmarsh, Adelaide – Urbanspoon/Zomato

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Breakfast Pizza

How many times has your teenager turned up their nose at breakfast and wanted pizza instead? Why not give them pizza? I have tried many times and many ways to get my children to eat a healthy breakfast and nothing seems to work; then I tried severing pizza for breakfast.

Breakfast pizza may take a little longer to prepare than normal breakfast, but the reward and the fun is worth it. What I do is take a can of biscuits or if you really want to be creative you can make your own dough from scratch. Roll all the biscuits together, and then roll them out to make a round disk shape. You have your base start.

Then you start making white gravy for the second layer. This takes the longest to make because the gravy has to thicken. In the mean time you can be cooking your bacon. Make the bacon crisp so it can be easily crumbled, or you can use bacon bits – either one is good.

After your gravy is thick and the bacon ready, you can start scrambling your eggs. Be sure to make them light and fluffy. Also have cheese ready, packed shredded is good or you can shred your own. With everything ready it’s now time to assemble your pizza.

Pre-heat the oven to 350 degrees.

Take the biscuit dough that you rolled out and place it in a lightly well-greased dish or on a cookie sheet. If you use a cookie sheet roll the edge’s up slightly so the gravy will not run out.

After you have placed your dough, take a large spoon and spoon the gravy on the top of the dough. Spread the gravy evenly over the dough. The next step will be your eggs. Crumble them up and scatter them evenly all around the top.

The bacon is next.

Crumble it up or if you are using bacon bits sprinkle them in your hand and scatter them over the eggs. What is a pizza if there is no cheese? Take some shredded cheese any flavor you or our family likes and cover the entire the top of your pizza.

It is now time to cook your pizza.
Place the pizza in a pre-heated oven for the same time that you cook your biscuits, about 10-15 minutes. When the biscuits are golden brown around the edges and the cheese melted, your pizza is ready. I would wait about five to ten minutes before cutting and severing it. The gravy can get boiling hot at this point.
After the cooling down time, cut and enjoy. My son has not missed breakfast since I have started serving pizza at anytime. This is a simple recipe, but it is will worth the effort and time to see them eating and smiling at the breakfast table.
Using this same recipe you can also make little croissants molding the biscuits in a muffin pan. These make wonderful little bit size tidbits for children and are just plain fun.

1. Breakfast Pizza I Recipe –
2. How to Preserve Healthy Cucumbers
3. Breakfast Pizza recipe from

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Beer Reviews Ofallon Pumpkin Ale

As the summer begins to wane and the sights and smells of autumn are just around the corner, my thought turn to beer, of course. They turn that way a lot, as my friends would be quick to point out, but the end of summer marks a special time for beer-lovers. On the way out are the light, easy-drinking wheat ales and lagers that are so well suited for hot weather and on the way in are the darker, more robust ales that readily warm the soul on a chill fall evening.

One of my favorite fall seasonal ales is a pumpkin ale. Generally an amber ale with actual pumpkin (in whole or extract form) and spices like cinnamon, nutmeg and clove added. A well-crafted pumpkin ale is rich with the splendor of fall a cornucopia of harvest scents and flavors in a bottle. Spiced beers are not for everyone, but if you enjoy something different and are a fan of “holiday” seasonings and spices, like I am, you can really appreciate the festive spirit these ales evoke.

I am fortunate enough to live in an area of the country that produces one of the better Pumpkin Ales available in the craft beer market O’Fallon Brewery’s Pumpkin Ale. O’Fallon has been in the brewing business since 2000 and they have managed to produce some truly fine and distinctive ales in their relatively short history. Most notable of these is their Smoked Porter winner of a Gold Medal at the 2004 Great American Beer Festival. O’Fallon also has the distinction of producing one of my very favorite summer standby beers they call Wheach a peach infused wheat beer that is subtle yet flavorful and refreshing.

Despite the cartoon-like label depicting a Halloween jack-o-lantern, O’Fallon’s Pumpkin Ale is not a novelty beer. With a solid malt backbone and a disciplined amount of spice in the nose and palate, this beer is a terrific accompaniment to a hearty fall feast, or all on its own.

Here is my review of their 2006 batch:

Pours a slightly hazy medium orange color with a thinnish almond head. Good carbonation. Nose is terrific … cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg and pumpkin … all of what you’d expect. There is a slight doughy aspect in the nose as well, from the roasted malts, that make this beer seem like a fresh pumpkin pie. Palate is consistent with the nose … nice spiciness and subtle malt sweetness. There is a distinctive hop “bite” in here as well, almost ginger-like. This one is really quite well balanced. Mouthfeel is maybe slightly thin, but very good over all for the style. Residual spiciness lingers on the tongue. Slightly sweet finish. This is a very drinkable pumpkin ale. One of the better ones I’ve had. Another very good offering from O’Fallon … I just wish they had better labels … the jack-o-lantern, like the Wheach label, just looks a little low-brow to me, but that is strictly a personal preference and in no way takes away from the great beers that O’Fallon produces.

Look for O’Fallon’s Pumpkin Ale at retailers in September and get ready to spice things up with a great fall seasonal!

1. Pumpkin Beer | O'Fallon Brewery | BeerAdvocate
2. Stop Eating Too Much & Eat Less Healthy Guidelines
3. O'Fallon Pumpkin Beer – RateBeer

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Beer Recommendations for Thanksgiving Dinner

Thanksgiving, a time for fine food and celebration. The food is always at its best, the mere thought of the mouth-watering aromas, floating through the air is enough to stir the palette into a crazed ecstasy of delight. But more often than not, the drink can be a bit of an afterthought. Often it is a last minute decision that usually is settled by choosing a wine that you believe is “quite nice”. This year why not combine and complement the meal with various fine beers from around the world? This will not only take your meal far above the ordinary, but such drinks will actually intensify the meal itself. What follows is a suggestion of the types of beers in which I would recommend to go with each course, however it is just a suggestion to give you a general idea, after all it is your meal not mine.

Why not start your thanksgiving dinner with a beer? What could be better than a light aperitif while the turkey is in the oven? For an aperitif you need something extra light and refreshing, something that will make you eager to start as opposed to blow you out. Try a gentle crisp lager to start something like Tiger beer would work well. With that drunk we are onto the starter.

If you are having a spiced soup for a starter you could choose worse than a tangy brown ale or rich pale ale, the choices here are almost endless, bear in mind though we don’t want anything too strong at this stage. Why not choose Stone Pale Ale which possess a delightfully robust full flavor, but the choice is really up to you, as long as it is rich and full-bodied you can’t go wrong. You could even opt for British ale; check out Hobgoblin or Bishop’s Finger both go down well with soups.

Main course time, the moment we have all been waiting for, by now your taste buds really should be buzzing and you will be eager in the anticipation of the feast ahead. But what beer to choose here? Well, what we don’t want here is quantity; we want to save room for the meal after all don’t we? So maybe it is time to spring a special treat. If you can get hold of a real quality Belgian beer here, served in its own unique glass, you will really be the toast of the celebration, and a real connoisseur of taste. A Leffe Blonde should be the easiest to get hold of, but perhaps you could go with a golden Chimay, very intense but should complement the turkey no end.

If you have still got room for the pumpkin pie you will probably be want a much lighter beer after the main selection. A nice touch would be to return to the aperitif, or if you and your guests are feeling adventurous maybe a fruit-infused beer or even a wheat beer. The best thing to offer is choice at this stage as no doubt your guests will fall into one of the two camps.

By this stage most of the guests will want to sit down and relax, perhaps clutching the beer in which they favored the most, so the perfect host has plenty to spare, with maybe one or two new beers to keep the options open. All of this may sound like to much hard work, after all you have the meal to prepare, but don’t forget the beers can be bought weeks in advance so it need not be a issue on the day. If it all still sounds too much trouble then you could always get someone else to do the cooking! Happy thanksgiving.

1. The Serious Eats Guide to Thanksgiving Beer Pairing | Serious Eats
2. Sacred Heart Diet for Losing Weight
3. Randy Moshers Thanksgiving Day Beer List –

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Beginners Guide to Buying Wine

If you are a novice wine-drinker and have enjoyed a glass of wine with friends or in a restaurant setting, it can be quite challenging to go out and buy wine when there are literally thousands of choices, and perhaps even dozens of choices in local supermarkets.  Here are a few suggestions that will serve you well as a basic guide to buying wine. 

*Finding out What You Like

The key to buying wines that you will enjoy is to know what kind of wine you like.

For this purpose, your best bet is to go to a wine specialty shop.  The advantage to this is that most good specialty stores have tastings on the weekends where you might be able to try 6 to 10 wines at their tasting table and be assured that you will go home with the wine that tastes good to you. 

The second reason is that the staff in wine specialty shops are generally far more knowledgeable than in your local supermarkets and shopping clubs. 

A good sales person can steer you towards good bargains and even assist you in wine pairing for dinners or parties. 

If there isn’t a good wine shop conveniently located near your home, then organize a wine tasting party and invite good friends to bring one or two bottles of wine each and taste them side by side in a casual, friendly environment. 

The best way to do this is to taste the same grape varietal in a similar price range to see which brands and wine growing regions stand out. 

You can make it a game by covering the bottles with brown paper bags and marking them with letters or numbers and have people vote for their favorites. 

A simple buffet of bread, cheese and deli meats is all you need to have with your wine to see which ones go best with food. 

You can choose the wines from a similar price point, let’s say $10 to $20, all from the same growing region (California, Australia etc.) or across regions to begin to understand the difference between Cabernet Sauvignon from Chile or California.

Keep a list of favorite wines you discover and have them handy as your own personal “house wines”. 

*Where Do You Start?

According to Andrea Immer, award winning sommelier and author of the book, “Great Wines Made Simple”, 80% of all wines are made from the “Big Four” wine grape varietals.  They are two red wine grapes, Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot and two white grape varietals, Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc. 

As you taste, you will find that the Cabernet Sauvignon will be more robust and have more “mouth feel” because of the tannins from that grape and the Merlot will taste slightly fruitier and silkier. 

Chardonnay will generally taste  richer and have a fuller “mouth feel” and Sauvignon Blanc will taste lighter and slightly more acidic.  However, the effect of the contact between the wine and oak, either from barrel aging or the addition of wood chips to the wine (in cheaper wines) will give a softer, even buttery quality to the wine.  It is an interesting experiment to try oaked and un-oaked wines made from the same grape varietal side by side to illustrate this. 

Because of the heartier, more tannic quality of red wine, they are all usually barrel-aged to bring out the maximum flavor in the wine. 

Once you find individual wines from the grape varietals you like, start trying them side by side with other varietals to see which you like best. 

Learning about the “Big Four” will give you a strong wine background, considering how many wines are made worldwide from these four grapes. 

Once you get a good feel for these wines, there are many other wines made from other grapes that are worth trying and are quite delicious.  Try red wines made from Pinot Noir, Pinotage, San Geovese and Gamay, then whites made from Viognier, Pinot Grigio And Riesling. 

*Exploring Wine Regions

There are many famous wine growing regions around the world that specialize in local grape varietals, such as, Malbec from Argentina, Zinfandel from California and Shiraz from Australia.  These are unique and tasty wines that should not be missed.  Though, some can be pricey, like good Zinfandel from California, there are some great values like the Argentine Malbec from Mendosa and the Australian Shiraz from the Barossa Valley. 

Inspired by the great wines of Bordeaux in France, the “Super Tuscans” in Italy and the wines of the Rhone river valley, many wines are made from blending grape varietals to create unique regional wines.  Once you have been acquainted with the single varietal wines, try some of these regional wines for their unique attributes.  Here is where a good wine salesperson can help to guide you to a wonderful wine tasting adventure. 

*Specialty Wines

All the wines mentioned above are dry wines, meaning the sugars that occur naturally in the grapes have been fully fermented to create the alcohol in the wine.  They are generally drunk with food or at social gatherings with savory snacks. 

In the making of champagne or other sparkling wine, a second fermentation is induced to create effervescence in the wine. 

Such “sparkling” wines make any occasion feel special and can be paired with savory or sweet foods.  Be sure to choose a sparkling wine that is clearly marked “Methode Champagne” on the bottle, or any true Champagne made in the Champagne region of France.  The best examples from France can be quite expensive, but the Moet Chandon White Star can be found for around $20.  This is an excellent entry-level French champagne.  The korbel Natural is a California sparkling wine made in the true “method Champagne for around $12.  This is a good introductory wine for the California style of this sparkling classic. 

There many varieties of fortified wines for after dinner or evenings by the fire.  These fall under the heading of port and Sherry.  These are generally made by adding neutral grape spirits (alcohol) to the fermenting wine while there is still some residual sweetness to stop the fermentation process, yielding a sweeter, after-dinner wine with a higher alcohol content, usually around 20%.    They are delicious sipping wines for sharp cheeses, nuts and fruit.  They are a truly elegant way to end a fine meal or just relax by the fire with good friends. 

This is a simple beginners guide that will get you on your way to trying and developing a love for good wine.  Remember that the best definition for good wine is wine that you like.  So get out there and start trying as many kinds of wines as you can, and you will have a great knowledge base in no time. 

1. Wine Basics – A Beginner's Guide to Drinking Wine | Wine Folly
2. How to Get Off Coffee
3. Best Wines for Beginners – LoveToKnow

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Beer Reviews Goose Island Matilda

Once in a while I come across a beer that genuinely surprises me. I sample a lot of beers, from a lot of places, and I really try not to build expectations too high for a beer that I’m familiar with, and have read glowing reviews for, but never sampled myself. That’s not fair to the beer. Seldom has a beer with a lot of hype surrounding it lived up to that hype, in my experience (with a few exceptions, of course. Westvleteren 12, for example, is as good as they say it is!).

When it comes to Belgian-style beers, I’m even more cautious. Belgian beers are, for me, the pinnacle of brewing excellence. The brewers of Belgium, particularly the Trappist breweries, are the very best in the world …Sorry Germany. Because I hold the great beers of Belgium in such high regard, I’m always wary when an American brewer attempts a Belgian-style beer. Not that the results are necessarily bad, but there is almost always a qualitative difference between a “Belgian-style” beer and the genuine article. There is an elusive quality to the great beers of Belgium that cannot truly be duplicated elsewhere even in the most masterful of brewing hands. Don’t get me wrong, there are very good Belgian-style beers out there from other countries … several beers from brewers like Ommegang, Allagash, and Unibroue (Canada) come to mind … but they’re still not Belgian beers.

That’s just my opinion, anyway.

I had the pleasure of sampling a beer from a fine brewery right here in Illinois last evening that I felt compelled to write about. You see, this was one of those beers that surprised me … in a good way. I’m talking about Goose Island Brewing Co. in Chicago.

I’ve had many of the Goose Island beers, and enjoyed them all. I’ve never questioned that Goose Island brews quality beer. I have never, however, come across a Goose Island beer that impacted me the way this one did. I can honestly say that this beer is not only the best beer I’ve tried from Goose Island; it’s very possibly the best American-made Belgian style beer I’ve tried in a long while.

That’s saying a lot.

The beer I’m referring to is Goose Island Matilda. Matilda is part of a “reserve” series of beers Goose Island produced that were inspired by a brewery trip to Belgium, some construction issues, and other meaningful events. The black and white bottle labels tell the story of each beer. Along with Matilda, look for Demolition (a Belgian Strong Pale Ale), Pere Jacques (a Belgian Dubbel), and Bourbon County Stout (an American Double Stout). Matilda is the most conservative of the four in terms of ABV … at only 7%.

Here’s my formal review of the beer, as found on Beer Advocate:

Pours a beautiful orange gold color with a bubbly off-white head with good retention and a nice lacing inside the chalice. The nose is very spicy and fruity, and has just a slightly musty character that is extremely pleasant. I can’t stop sniffing this beer. The palate is lush – tropical fruits, Christmas spice, candy, and do I detect a bit of tart, gueuze-like zing here? I think I do. Very, very complex. The mouthfeel is silky, and finishes dry with some lingering bitterness that leaves the mouth watering for more. This beer floored me, quite frankly. I like Goose Island beers, but this may just be the best Goose Island beer I’ve ever tried. In fact, this may well be one of the best American-made Belgian style beers I’ve ever tried. Truly world class if you ask me. I need more of this beer.

I have not seen this particular brew anywhere in Southern Illinois, so far, but Goose Island does have distribution affiliation with Anheuser-Busch, so it is possible that a helpful retailer, Like Jimmy at Pinch Penny, might be able to order it for you. Trust me, if you’re into Belgian beer, and the Strong Pale Ale style in particular, you won’t be disappointed. In fact, if you get your hands on this gem and don’t like it for some reason, email me and I’ll buy what you have left!

Well done Goose Island!

1. Goose Island Brewery
2. 4 Alternatives to Sports Drinks
3. Matilda | Goose Island Beer Co. | BeerAdvocate

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Beer Reviews Dogfish Head Chateau Jiahu

Those that know me well know that I have an affinity for “extreme beers.” I enjoy beers that push the boundaries and defy styles. Sometimes these beers are just “big” versions of classic styles, like Double IPAs or Imperial Pilsners, and other times they don’t fit into any known category cleanly. I am not one of those people, however, who go “big” or don’t go at all. My first and greatest love is still a well-crafted, balanced session beer you can enjoy without doing extreme violence to your palate.

But sometimes it’s just fun.

Because of my fascination with beers that push the limits and defy categorization, I have come to consider the Milton, Delaware craft brewer Dogfish Head among my very favorites. I’ve sampled virtually every beer from Dogfish Head I’ve been able to get my hands on and I’ve enjoyed every one if not for the sheer quality of the beer then certainly for its unashamed spirit of adventure. These are rebellious beers and that’s a good thing for the hardcore beer lover.

What may be Dogfish Head’s most ambitious experiment yet is a beer that finds it’s origins in ancient China yes, China. The recipe for DFH’s Chateau Jiahu is based on the residual ingredients found in clay pots unearthed in the Neolithic village of Jiahu in northern China. The recipe is said to be over 9,000 years old. Based on the chemical compounds found in these ancient brewing vessels, Dogfish Head set out to reproduce this ancient brew as closely as possible to what the original might have been like almost ten centuries ago the result may not be precisely the same, and modern technology certainly gives the brewer of today a decided advantage, but the spirit of the brew is alive and well in Chateau Jiahu.

Brewed using pre-gelatinized rice flakes, honey, Muscat grapes, hawthorn fruit and chrysanthemum flowers is enough to solidify the claim that Chateau Jiahu is one of the most unique beers ever brewed … or at least in the last 9,000 years but add to this the fact that sake yeast was used to ferment this “beer” and you’ve certainly got something that defies every extant beer style known to man. Leave it to Dogfish Head to convert something old into something completely new and innovative. This it truly one of the most unique and unusual beers in the world. Antiquity meets modernity the result? Here’s my tasting notes:

Poured from a 750ML bottle, this strange fluid pours a medium yellow color, with highlights of light honey. Active carbonation bubbles soar to the surface of the liquid in the large white wine glass I’m using to review this beer. The rather thin head is tight and quite sticky, leaving spots of lacing inside the glassware. The nose is quite simply otherworldly is this beer or possibly a complex white wine? The Muscat grapes used in this beer are present right from the start and lend a very unusual wine-like bouquet to the nose, making you think you might be drinking a sparkling white wine instead of a (technically) beer. Slightly sweet on the nose as well, the wildflower honey is evident and makes one think a bit of a mead. This is either one of the most complex beers ever, or it has a serious identity crisis. Slight floral notes, which I can only assume is from the chrysanthemum, are very inviting as well. The nose is, quite honestly, more like a wine or a mead than a beer, on first blush. The palate does not pale in comparison to the nose, but grants a fuller picture of what the nose only hints at. Again, a sparkling white wine comes to mind, but the mouth feel is obviously thicker and the initial flavor substantially sweeter. The sweetness subsides a little bit as the beer sits in the mouth, and yields to a spicier, fruitier composition that reminds me of a good Belgian tripel. Without a doubt though, the honey and the grapes are dominant on the palate. The finish is moderately dry, and the carbonation is just adequate to keep this beer from being sticky and cloying. In a nutshell, this beer has a lot going on all at once. I’m a little bit torn whether it all melds together masterfully, or it’s just a little outside the realm of congruence. Whatever your take is, however, this is clearly a well-crafted and seriously complex beer that defies style and stretches the palate in a very good way. I think if you really like a Belgian Tripel, or maybe even a saison, you’ll at least appreciate this beer. For me, I genuinely like it and would like to revisit it again. Like anything new, a beer that is this unique takes some getting used to. Dogfish Head does it again.

So, there you have it. Chateau Jiahu is definitively one of the most unique, and challenging, beers you can find. While it doesn’t hit you over the head with a ridiculously high ABV (although it is at 8.0%), or scorch your palate with an IBU level that could peel pain off the wall, it challenges you with unique ingredients and resulting flavors that are known in no other beer at least no other beer I’ve tried, and I’ve tried a few.

If you can find this one it is a limited availability beer you may want to give it a try. If you haven’t tried any Dogfish Head beers, by all means find them. Dogfish Head is legendary for their unique ales and any craft beer lover needs to include this great brewer’s beers on his/her “tried that” list.

1. Dogfish Head Brewery
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3. Chateau Jiahu | Dogfish Head Craft Brewery | BeerAdvocate

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